Review: Rudd School Of Rock Showcase

By Anita Lowe

Date / Venue: Saturday 2nd December 2017, Kohimarama School, Auckland

It was all there... black t-shirts, cool sneakers, sequins, retro denim, cowboy boots, ripped jeans, tight pants, pink hair, glam hair, glam guitars, pierced ears, reindeer ears, and a whole lot of star attitude. The only thing that was missing was the red carpet to welcome the parade of smooth-looking performers as they arrived ready to strut their stuff at Rudd School of Rock Showcase 2017.

And strut their stuff they did. Some of Rudd School of Rock’s students have become very seasoned performers, holding the audience in awe with not only their musical talent, but also the confident stage presence of real professionals. First time performers were no less impressive. Faces full of concentration but clearly enjoying the limelight and the applause they received from the admiring audience.

The 1.5 hr long showcase featured the entire spectrum of instruments taught at Rudd School of Rock. Students performed as soloists, duos, groups and rock bands with thoughtfully chosen songs that demonstrate the broad repetoire of music styles taught by Rudd School of Rock’s talented and passionate teachers, most of whom are actively performing musicians in NZ’s music scene. The audience was treated to a playful piano recital of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer right through to a stylishly boisterous rendition of Iron Maiden’s hit ‘The Trooper’, and everything in between.

The show opened with Oscar & The Orbitors, Rudd School of Rock’s Eastern Bays Band, joined by the Ensemble Band of guitar and ukulele players performing Ed Sheeran’s anthem ‘Castle On The Hill.’ Oscar Zonneveld on vocals was in fine form with a voice that has really developed over the years he has been singing with Rudd School of Rock. But it’s not just the voice that had the crowd rocking along and wanting more, Oscar worked the stage like a pro. Decked out in all white with hair groomed to perfection, this young man has superstar appeal. He is sure to have a bevy of fans in a few years if he keeps this up!

Oscar & The Orbitors next launched into a stirring rendition of Wolfmother’s ‘Joker & The Thief,’ a real Aussie foot-stomper of a song with fantastic guitar and drum riffs from band members Milan Kashyap (guitar)and Allie Pignatelli (drums).

Then came something unexpected. After playing the piano with her band, in the same way a light fluffy snowflake might fall on the nose of a bellowing giant, the talented India Neshausen stomped on any suggestion the show was turning into a rock concert, by sending the audience the loveliest Christmas gift - a classic piano solo recital of ‘Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’. Super sweet.

Rudd & Roll, a family band made up of six young Rudds were up next, performing Passenger’s ‘Let Her Go’ followed by the hit song ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the Disney movie Moana. Clearly, when these kids get together at family functions, it’s not play time on their minds, it’s jam time.

Rudd & Roll’s drummer Jordan Rudd couldn’t help himself from launching into an impromptu Animal-inspired (remember The Muppets?) drum solo frightening the rest of his band off stage. But such a good way to give the audience a taste of what was up next.

Oliver Spillane, Devon Laurent and Vili Qereqeretabua each took to the stage to perform original mini drum solos loaded with rhythm, energy and style. We think Animal would have been jealous!

Piano prodigy Thomas Bentley performed a beautiful version of the theme music from ‘Final Fantasy VII.’ Thomas wowed the audience performing this complicated piece of piano music entirely from memory without any sheet music for reference! Not a feat that would be attempted by even the most experienced of pianists. This young man has got real musical talent!

Milan Kashyap and Jordan Herbert then hit the stage with their fast fingers and distorted electric guitars to perform speed metal anthem ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden. What we witnessed was truly inspiring whirlwind guitar licks and perfectly executed harmonic guitar solos.

Long-time performers at Rudd School of Rock Showcases, super- relaxed John Villager and Malcolm Hope with their cool guitars, Malcolm’s mellow voice, accompanied by Jenny Villiger on piano, performed Bruce Springsteen’s moody number ‘The Factory’. We loved the country-inspired guitar solos delivered so effortlessly!

Next up was the smooth baritone silky tones of Abhinav Makam soothing the audience with Todrick Hall’s hit ‘Color.’ We could listen to this young man all day. What a voice!

Elianna Denby then sang a heartfelt version of Linkin Park’s ‘One More Light,’ a tribute for all the amazing music legends that have passed away in recent years including David Bowie, Prince, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington who wrote this song. Beautiful!

Taking the stage next was Rudd School of Rock’s North Shore band Teva & The Times performing Sia’s song ‘Alive.’ Singer/guitarist Teva Dickinson has an unbelievable voice and sings from his soul. He is a sensation to watch on stage. This young man has the most amazing ability to put his own unique spin on songs of any genre or style and make them truly his own. Teva is definitely one who has got what it takes to make it on the professional music scene. Ben Brighouse on drums for the band is worthy of mention too. This young man makes drumming look a breeze. We know it’s not!

Teva & The Times was minus its guitarist, Rudd School of Rock Musician of the Year 2016 Jackson Margan. It was unfortunate that Jackson had to scale back all his activities recently to undergo treatment for cancer. All the performances by Teva & The Times were dedicated to Jackson. Love and strength to you Jackson. We want to see you back in action soon.

Nicole Shiqi Ho who was Rudd School Musician Of The Year 2015 joined Teva and the Times to bring the audience a touch of country with Chris Stapleton’s beautiful song ‘Tennessee Whiskey’. Two mighty voices on stage at the same time. We could not help but be impressed.

Nicole then delivered a soaring and powerful pitch-perfect version of Alicia Key’s ‘Girl On Fire.’ This song sounds difficult to sing and it is. Did Nicole need an ‘auto-tune’? Most definitely not. This young lady really can sing.

Teva & The Times closed their set with a rocking version of ‘There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back’ by Shawn Mendes. The song’s title summed up the positive energy at the venue created by each and every one of Rudd School of Rock’s talented performers on stage.

To close Showcase 2017, Oscar & the Orbitors were joined by The Super Group. This closing act featured a wall of guitar, ukulele and singing students performing Deep Purple’s anthem, ‘Smoke On The Water.’ Oscar led the crowd with a clap along while the guitarists smashed out the hit song to wild applause.

The traditional prize-giving segment of Rudd School of Rock’s Showcase recognises Rudd School of Rock highest achieving students for the year. Understandably, the judging panel never finds it easy to compile the list of award recipients each year. So much talent exists among the school’s students, and the Showcase performances prove that.

Talented students in both Junior and Senior Categories, took out the top awards for their passion to learn, dedication to practice, and desire to excel in their chosen music ‘craft.’

Not forgetting that in the world of music, it’s not just about the music, it’s as much about the fashion, Rudd School of Rock awarded Devon Laurent and Nina Lewis for their efforts to turn up to the occasion dressed like proper rock stars. Devon was oozing coolness dressed top to tail in retro denim, and Nina looked super fierce in an all black faux fur and denim.

What a show, what talent! Rudd School of Rock is not wrong when it says its Showcase is a rock concert for all the family and it shouldn’t be missed! We say, go back and work on some more good stuff Rudd School of Rock students, we can’t wait for Showcase 2018!


Most Outstanding Musician 2017

Teva Dickinson


Most Promising Vocalist

Abhinav Makam

Most Promising Guitarist

Milan Kashyap

Most Promising Pianist

Thomas Bentley

Most Promising Drummer

Caitlin Neville-White Ben Brighouse


Most Promising Vocalist

Oscar Zonneveld

Most Promising Guitarist

Bruno Canestri

Most Promising Pianist

India Neshausen

Most Promising Drummer

Allie Pignatelli Jordan Rudd

Best Dressed Awards

Devon Laurent Nina Lewis